News from the Superintendent – June 2017

All Students Learning Well, Without The Loss Of Enthusiasm For Learning

I’m sure everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this week-end – even the cloudy but warm Monday. My wife and I enjoyed numerous bike rides to a variety of places. Today, I decided to go on a 12 mile run – and about 6 miles into it, when my only choice was to finish, I questioned my decision to do it in the first place. Now, I am limping around and receiving “0” sympathy from those who told me I was getting too old to run long distances 😉

It is during my runs that I think about all the things I need to do to continue the progress we have made these last 3 years. It has been an incredible 3 years and the changes we have made would not have been possible without the support from our staff and community. I know I’ve thanked you numerous times, but need to shout out another thanks as we bring closure to yet another successful year.

As I mentioned last week, we have a busy summer ahead with numerous deferred maintenance projects on the Mohawk Middle/High School facility. We will also be moving our Charter School Personnel into the main building of the “old” elementary school. With the growth we have experienced the last 3 years we are in dire need of additional space. The wrestling and weight room will also be moved to the elementary school to free up space at the Middle/High School. The new charter school will focus on virtual delivery of core courses and synchronous/asynchronous delivery of STEM/STEAM (Including the arts) through agriculture.

STEM By Itself Is Not The Answer

There is no doubt that STEM has become an extremely hot topic in education and a need for developing a workforce that can fill the jobs of the future. We know that teaching science and math with a traditional silo approach has very little relation to the real world and often will not provide students the ability to problem solve as critical thinkers. Critical thinking and good employability skills is what colleges and the workforce desire.

STEM by itself is not the answer. Cherry picking cool lessons without a comprehensive approach to STEM/STEAM instruction can cause confusion among students. Students need to know where it all fits together in a way they can make connections to their own lives. Therefore, Agriculture may be our answer. One thing is for certain, in order to survive our students need food, fiber, shelter and energy – all of which are provided through the lens of agriculture. Most students and educators do not make that connection and therefore do not recognize how agriculture can be a useful context to teach STEM/STEAM. The Marcola School District and the MVSA charter school can partner to provide a quality STEM/STEAM program to our local students and other rural and urban students who may or may not have an experience with Agriculture and STEM/STEAM. Some examples of STEM/STEAM applications for Agriculture are listed below:

When discussing genetics with students, teachers and students explore and research how purposeful selection of breeding stock in beef animals has helped produce leaner animals with more efficient feed conversion ratios.

Students can research how science, technology, engineering and math has produced equipment to make production of food more efficient, more healthy and more affordable.

Students learn programming and design of equipment to help farmers more precisely apply fertilizers, leading to less waste and potential runoff. And/or students learn the design and programming behind building a tractor that drives itself and can call the service technician when maintenance is needed.

Marcola Is On The Right Path

The list can go on and on. Each project requires an integration of Reading, Writing, Math, Technology, Science, Health, Design (Art), and yes – even physical education. As students complete projects they will earn badges toward certifications. Completing a course with proficiency would require students to earn a badge for every unit taught in the course.

We are on the right path and I am more than happy to throw resources at developing a very strong K-12 Agriculture/STEM program with a focus on our environment and technology.

With the input from staff – Tami and I are setting up the PD (Personal Development) schedule for next year. I will share it prior to summer departure to get feedback and suggestions. I do know this, we will need a half day for Emergency Preparedness, half day for first aid and CPR, a minimum of a half day for STEP UP to Writing, a half day for Ready Math training (K-8 teachers), a half day for Accreditation and School Improvement and a half day for technology/google training.

In closing, the sun just came back out and I’m beginning to get re energized for a possible bike ride?